Antivirus software is must-have protection. This review picks the best antivirus software based on its virus detection abilities, features, and breadth of protection. Whether you’re seeking total system coverage or an ala carte solution, each of the following products provides superb virus protection for Windows-based PCs. Because every system is unique, evaluate several of these antivirus products to find the software best suited for your PC and your level of experience.
- McAfee VirusScan
- Kaspersky Internet Security
- eTrust EZ Antivirus
- Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2007
- ZoneAlarm Pro
McAfee is an industry leader in computer protection and VirusScan is their #1 defense against viruses. This software comes with a ScriptStopper, to prevent virus to propagate from one computer to another via email, and WormStopper. Get McAfee VirusScan. Click here.
Ease of Use: 4/4
If you use the default settings, setup is a breeze. The default settings provide very good protection against viruses, Trojans, worms, malicious ActiveX controls and Java applets.
The SecurityCenter has several tabs besides the VirusScan tab. There is one for Personal Firewall+, Privacy Service and SpamKiller. These are other programs offered by McAfee.
VirusScan boasts one of the best virus detection records. The software received the VB100% award for 2005, the ICSA award for 2005 and passed both level 1& 2 Checkmarks from West Coast Labs.
McAfee VirusScan 9.0 automatically downloads updated virus definitions from the Internet on a regular basis. Staying up to date will dramatically decrease any possibility that a virus will infect your computer. On Average, McAfee comes out with new virus definitions on a daily basis.
You will have to register and login to get updates-this makes the process longer than it needs be.
Feature Set: 4/3.5
McAfee VirusScan offers a rich list of features. You can set VirusScan to scan your computer at a preprogrammed scheduled time. The program also scans for spyware and adware.
You can’t add several tasks to the Scheduled Scan. This would be a nice quality so you could scan all files once a month and only program files weekly or any other tasks you would like to set up.
McAfee has an Antivirus Emergency Response Team that continually monitors the worldwide virus activities to provide you with the utmost safety. The always-on protection guards against viruses, spyware and other Internet threats that may enter your PC via e-mail, instant message attachments, Internet downloads, and web browsing.
Ease of Installation: 4/4
We didn’t encounter any problems during the installation process.
McAfee has plenty of help options, including documentation, email and phone support. We were disappointed with their email response time-it took 5 days to respond and they didn’t answer all our questions, hence the low rating.
McAfee is a name brand product that does an excellent job at detecting and removing viruses. Their update process can be somewhat tedious and their support department needs to answer their emails in a timelier manner.
Kaspersky also receives a perfect score on our review, passes all of the major virus tests, has hourly definition updates and offers an extensive feature set. This is one of the best anti-virus software. Download award-winning antivirus & anti-spyware software from Kaspersky Lab now
Ease of Use: 4/4
Kaspersky has a very clean and easy-to-use interface. The program is divided with three tabs- protection, settings and support. Within each tab, you can choose from several other functions.
This software is perfect for the average home user and advanced users. For home users, who don’t want to get too technical, there is recommended settings and an easy-to-find scan button that will instantly start to scan your computer based on these settings. More advanced users can go into the settings tab and completely customize what they would like the program to do.
Kaspersky comes with three types of scan levels: Maximum – thoroughly scans all files, self-extracting archives, startup objects, disk boot sectors, system memory and email format files. Normal – covers everything the maximum setting covers minus email format files. High Speed – scans everything minus the email format files, archives and startup objects.
Like the #1 product, Kaspersky passed the VB100% award, the ICSA 2005 and the West Coast Labs Checkmark level 1 and 2. These awards mean the software detected all of the “in the wild” viruses, generated no false positives, prevented virus replication and disinfected all of the viruses that could be disinfected.
Besides being very thorough and reliable, it only took eight minutes for us to scan an 80 GB hard drive. This anti-virus software is so fast you won’t have to set aside hours to scan your computer or set it up to run at night.
By default, Kaspersky updates their definitions on an hourly basis, which blows away the competition. This leaves a very small window for a virus to be created and infect your machine. Alternatively, you can configure the program so you can receive automatic updates or you can manually update your program.
Furthermore, the updates will resume if your Internet connection is interrupted, and the cumulative updates, the ones that contain the entire virus database, are only half the size they used to be. The latest version employs a special technology so the program will use already existing anti-virus database for a cumulative update.
Feature Set: 4/4
You can choose which files you would like Kaspersky to scan by simply right clicking on the file. You can even select a number of files to scan or just scan your entire computer.
If the software detects a virus there are a number of things you can have the software do. It can just delete the file, notify you that it has found an infected file or log the information for later use.
During each scan, there is an estimated time to finish so you can plan accordingly.
Ease of Installation: 4/4
We didn’t encounter any problems while installing this program.
Kaspersky has all of the support you need. There is an email address, an online forum, phone support and a FAQ. They answered our email within 12 hours.
Kaspersky is an easy-to-use program for the average person with plenty of customizable options for an advanced user. Just install and set up this software and you’ll never have to worry about a virus or worm infecting your computer.
eTrust’s EZ Antivirus is an easy-to-use program that’s good for computer novices and does a good job protecting your files and your computer from viruses. Download Your FREE Optimize Scan from CA!
This software doesn’t scan for riskware, adware or spyware.
Ease of Use: 4/4
The interface uses an Explorer-like file tree that you use to select individual files and folders for scanning. This program is user-friendly with four tab categories. This product is ideal for the average user, but advanced users may find the software has limited advanced features.
Though you can exclude and customize specific files and folders to scan, the software lacks the advanced features that Bitdefender offers.
In Virus Bulletin’s tests with live viruses, previous versions of eTrust’s EZ Antivirus earned the VB100% rating in seven of its eight most recent Windows tests. The only test that didn’t receive 100% was while running on the Window ME operation system.
EZ passed ICSA Labs testing for August in both the OnDemand scanning tests and OnAccess tests.
The software’s compressed file detection is limited and it only scans email when you open an attachment.
eTrust updates their virus definitions on a daily basis. You can choose between automatic and manual updates.
Feature Set: 3/4
EZ includes a new feature called Snooze that disables the program’s real-time protection for a user-specified period-from one to 99 minutes. This is great for new software installations or to troubleshoot a system performance glitch or problem. In previous versions of EZ Antivirus, you had to reboot after disabling virus monitoring. To deactivate Snooze, simply click the Wake Now icon in the System Tray. If you forget, the timer will automatically turn off Snooze after the allotted time and restart the EZ Antivirus protection.
EZ Antivirus real-time scanner operates like most other AV software and runs in the background without much of a performance hit. EZ is lacking a “quarantine” function for infected, unclean files. This feature is common on many other AV packages.
Ease of Installation: 4/4
We didn’t have any problems during installation.
eTrust has great support with their support page, Knowledge Base Search and FAQs page. The support team responded to our email within 36 hours. However, the telephone support is very expensive at $49.95.
The good: PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 offers solid protection against viruses, hacker intrusions, and other online threats. It also costs less than its competitors and provides free phone support. Download award-winning internet security and anti-spyware software from Trend Micro
The bad: PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 could provide more aggressive spyware protection and limit or disable its own security pop-up messages.
The bottom line: PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 has a few shortcomings, but overall it’s an affordable and feature-packed security suite that reliably defends against online threats.
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 is a better buy than top-selling competitors Symantec Norton Internet Security 2007 and McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007. For starters, it costs $20 less than Norton or McAfee while bundling a similar toolkit, including virus, spyware, and phishing protection and a firewall. It produces less of a drag on system performance, and PC-cillin users get free phone support–a rarity in the industry. But PC-cillin 2007 also has its shortcomings. It should be more proactive in blocking spyware downloads; it leaves some security options turned off by default to reduce the hit on your system resources; and it peppers you with annoying pop-up security messages (you can disable this feature, but the deactivation process could be much easier). Despite these gripes, PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 is a worthy upgrade and a solid buy for new users.
Setting up PC-cillin Internet Security 2007 takes just a few minutes, although it takes a bit longer if you install the optional Trend Micro Anti-Spam toolbars for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. We’d prefer a single setup routine for all components. The toolbars appear to have been an afterthought, and you have to rummage through folders on the setup CD to find the Anti-Spam installation files. Once setup is complete, PC-cillin downloads updated virus definitions and program files and recommends that you run a system scan. The initial system scan is optional, as it is with McAfee, Norton, and other security apps.
The PC-cillin 2007 interface is nicely organized. As in Norton and McAfee, the main Overview screen displays a snapshot of your security status. Green checkmark icons indicate that your computer is properly protected against the usual threats. Large buttons titled Update Now and Scan Now make it easy to download the latest program files or scan for security breaches. Dig deeper, and you’ll find a level of control in PC-cillin that its best-selling competitors don’t match. For instance, you can configure the real-time virus protection to scan compressed files (ZIP files, for example) up to six layers deep. The real-time scanner doesn’t scan ZIP files by default, but the manual and scheduled scans do.
Surprisingly, PC-cillin 2007’s default configuration leaves many key security tools turned off, including the Web Site Filter, which blocks specific sites or categories of sites–gambling, sex, job search, and so on–and Privacy Protection, which prevents personal information, such as your name and your telephone and credit card numbers, from being sent without your permission. It’s easy enough to activate these features via the AntiFraud Wizard, but they should be up and running right out of the box. According to Trend Micro officials, some security features are turned off to reduce PC-cillin’s drag on system performance. While it’s true that ultrahigh security makes for a slower PC, we found that PC-cillin 2007–even with every security tool activated–was less of a speed bump than McAfee or Norton.
PC-cillin Internet Suite 2007 packs an impressive arsenal of security weapons. Like its competitors, it protects against viruses and spyware, cracker intrusions, and phishing attempts, the last of which are designed to purloin your credit card and bank-account numbers. This year’s upgrade brings improved phishing protection, including a new antiphishing toolbar for Internet Explorer. Another plus: PC-cillin detects new users on wireless networks. New users are increasingly common in home and small-business wireless networks, and they often operate without any security whatsoever.
That said, some of PC-cillin’s security tools need sharpening. Its spyware detection, for instance, should be more aggressive. Like Norton Internet Security 2007, PC-cillin allowed us to download and install WeatherCast, a free utility that contains adware. (After WeatherCast’s installation, both Norton and PC-cillin identified the program as a potential threat and offered to delete it.) By contrast, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 took a more proactive approach by identifying WeatherCast as a threat before we downloaded it.
PC-cillin also displays too many pop-up messages. When the Privacy Protection feature is activated, a pop-up box notifies you each time PC-cillin prevents a site from accessing your personal information. This gets annoying in a hurry, and you can end the messages via the Popup Manager in the main console. A suggestion: We’d rather click a button in a pop-up box to silence the messages (McAfee offers this). Trend Micro officials say future versions of PC-cillin will likely include this feature.
Here’s a big plus: Trend Micro provides free phone support for PC-cillin users–a rarity among security-software vendors. Phone times are Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, and (get this) the calls are toll-free. For weekend and after-hours help, PC-cillin’s online knowledge base is helpful and worth a look.
Unfortunately, we had mixed experiences with PC-cillin support. The phone experience was excellent. We experienced no wait times, and a knowledgeable and polite tech rep helped us fix a glitch involving PC-cillin and our 2Wire home-network diagnostic utility. However, one of the several e-mail queries we sent via Trend Micro’s support site was never answered. Still, Trend Micro’s level of support is the highest we’ve seen in the security space.
This powerful firewall/Antivirus software program not only protects your computer from hackers, it also protects your personal data by blocking those nasty viruses and Trojans. Whether you’re a novice or a computer professional, ZoneAlarm Pro makes it easy to keep your computer data safe. Download ZoneAlarm Pro Here
The new 6.5 version of ZoneAlarm Pro has strengthened their Anti–Spyware feature and added new features: Identity Theft Protection, Spy Site Blocking and Game Mode.
Feature set: 4/4
Your financial data and password lists are stored inside your computer, but a novice hacker could easily get into your system to copy these without detection. How do you keep prying eyes locked out and your private data locked in?
ZoneAlarm Pro has an option called MyVault; here you can enter any personal information you’d like protected. You can also enter a list of trusted sites that you will allow access to this private data-such as your bank website. If another source attempts accessing or transmitting MyVault data, ZoneAlarm Pro will block access.
We tested this feature by creating a test bank account number and password in MyVault. Then we tried to send that data in an email. ZoneAlarm Pro detected the attempt to send the sensitive data and blocked the transmission.
Two bonus features in ZoneAlarm Pro include the ability to block viruses and offer email protection. Most firewall software programs require you to uninstall existing anti-virus software before installing if their company also offers an anti-virus product. (This way, they force you to buy their anti-virus software as well.)
But ZoneAlarm Pro will incorporate your current anti-virus software into their firewall, allowing you to use the anti-virus product of your choice. And, if you don’t already have anti-virus protection, ZoneAlarm Pro will install their version, saving you time and money.
Not many firewall programs include email protection, but ZoneAlarm Pro uses Mailsafe software to protect you from receiving or sending viruses by email. Most people worry only about incoming viruses, but nothing is more distressing that learning a virus has sent itself to all the friends in your email address book-outgoing email protection is just as important.
You can customize settings within each field (except the anti-virus field) to tailor ZoneAlarm Pro. You can create a safe list of senders’ addresses, allowing ZoneAlarm Pro to act automatically as an email filter. This is an excellent bonus when you consider that Trojans and viruses often enter your computer by email.
Ease of use: 4/4
We at TopTenReviews rate how easy a program is to use from a computer novice perspective. We ask, “If I’m a beginner, would I be able to understand and use the options in this program quickly, without questions?”
ZoneAlarm Pro does exactly that. The well-designed control panel explains and displays available choices simply. Each field (such as program control) offers a brief description of the main choice and then shows other choices available. New users are not overloaded with irrelevant information.
Ease of installation & setup: 4/4
We experienced no difficulties while installing ZoneAlarm Pro.
We tested ZoneAlarm Pro’s ability to protect a computer system’s vulnerable open ports. An open port is a small doorway in your computer system that allows data to enter and leave. When you use a chat program online, for instance, your computer opens four ports to allow data to flow back and forth quickly. ZoneAlarm Pro was effective at protecting ports. ZoneAlarm Pro passed the Trojan test with flying colors too; no destructive Trojan programs made it past the firewall.
The only test ZoneAlarm Pro failed was the refer test. The referrer test checks to see if the firewall allows general computer information (such as your operating system, browser, location, IP address) to be seen by others online. Almost every firewall program we tested failed the refer test.
ZoneAlarm Pro’s documentation is well organized, making it easy to find answers fast. Learning to use the different fields and options that ZoneAlarm Pro offers is simple too, since this software is designed for a novice to understand.
ZoneAlarm Pro also has instant chat support available online. This allows you to enter then fine-tune a question. Then the support staff guides you to the right answer. ZoneAlarm Pro also has premium phone support available for a fee.
There are hundreds of software firewalls on the market today. Each claims to protect you from intruders. But few also protect your computer and your email from hackers, Trojans, viruses, porn ad images, and unwanted cookies. Like having a guard dog at the door, ZoneAlarm Pro delivers peace of mind by taking care of all these undesirables for you.